Pardon my French, but fuck the holidays.
Whatever holiday configuration you have found yourself shackled to, there is absolutely nothing worse than being stuck in the rainy, boring, depressing city. Skip Christmas, this sucks, let’s go camping.
If you don’t want to freeze your butt off in the mountains, may I suggest spending some time along the southern half of the Oregon Coast? It’s usually nicer weather, and it rarely gets cold enough to snow, so you don’t have to worry about getting frozen into your car at night while you sleep in the back. (Yes, I have had to kick my doors open when they iced over at night. It was not the funnest camping trip I ever went on. Learn from my mistakes.)
Sand Dunes National Recreation Area
This massive dunes complex on the central coast is a wildly under appreciated destination for solitude. Yeah, there are the dune buggy riders, but they don’t own the whole place. There’s areas set aside for us, the lowly pedestrian, too. I heard from an acquaintance that they’ve seen elk in the dunes; coyotes, foxes, and all kinds of other creatures. Interspersed with little tree islands, there really isn’t any landscape that compares to this one. It’s totally unique. Go appreciate it.
While you’re in the area, you can visit my childhood favorite, Darlingtonia State Wayside, where you can admire carnivorous plants in a bog via boardwalk.
I actually once got lost here on deer trails with my kids when they were little. It was… humbling.
The westernmost point of Oregon, a portal to another time, and the line that divides the regular coast winter weather from the usually-slightly-better-weather of the southern coast.
Cape Blanco has a lighthouse, historic buildings, amazing beaches with cool caves and epic rock formations. You can drive on the beach here. It is very photogenic, and of course extremely windy. The campground is cute, has real bathrooms, and is home to many adorable wild rabbits. My toddler loved it here, and so will yours.
I mean, you’re practically in California at this point, but Brookings is known for having the nicest weather in Oregon.
What is there to do in Brookings? Well, there’s the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Natural Area, as well as Thunder Rock Cove, the Natural Bridge, Harris Beach, and a bunch of cool islands in the ocean to admire. All the islands off Oregon’s shore are part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and are off limits to people. You can gaze at them longingly and wish you were a bird or a seal.
Right above the California border, south of Brookings in a patch of Oregon Redwoods, off the Winchuck River. (Which I admit, I had never heard of). There is also a redwood grove off the Chetco river near the state park. Go drive around, look at trees, rocks, and the ocean. Sounds relaxing, right?
Whatever you do this winter holiday, I hope it’s something you choose of your own free will and not borne of resentful obligation, enmeshment, or co-dependency.
Blessings to you all. 🍃